More making, thinking

Last month’s post showed a number of clay hexagons. That sequence of investigation resulted in a “flexa-hexagon”, following the instructions of Fiona Abel-Smith (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hmpac6TaXb8)

Sorry there’s no video – some technical issues on my part – so check Fiona’s tutorial to get an idea of how it works.


The research brief I mentioned last month was heavily modified after discussion with Ruth Hadlow and the rest of my Creative Research group. We’re now in our third year of working together, and our monthly zoom sessions are exhilarating and exhausting. We’re a diverse group, and the familiarity we’ve developed with each participant’s individual interests leads to wonderful questions, insights, and challenges.

Here I’ll just give a brief view of work so far – on 19th century mourning conventions.

Cassells Household Guide (date around 1880s) (https://href.li/?https://www.victorianlondon.org/cassells/cassells-35.htm#1) acknowledges the grief, but moves briskly into the practicalities for “the afflicted widow, who, being now deprived of her own and her children’s support, besides being perhaps totally unfitted for business duties, is left among strangers, friendless and alone; and who, most likely, by incurring needless outlay in funeral expenses, deprives of their subsistence those who look to her – who is now their only friend – for food and shelter.” Details are important, for example: “The width of the hat-bands worn differs according to the degree of relationship. When worn by the husband for the wife they are usually at the present time about seven inches wide. Those worn by fathers for sons, and sons for fathers, are about five inches wide. For other degrees of relationship the width of the hat-band varies from two and a half inches to four inches.” So much focus on money, business, status.

Mourning day dress
c. 1897-99
96.999.1AB
FIDM Museum

That rich purple. I wonder if it was one one the new aniline dyes.

As well as clothing, jewellery was a major signifier. Mum inherited a number of pieces, including this locket showing Louise Eleanor Corfield – my grandmother’s great aunt.

In 2019 mum and I made a pilgrimage to the National Library of Australia, which now holds the photograph albums of John Chester Jervis. Louise’s image briefly joined that of her brother and sister.

A slightly earlier influence is this still life watercolour by Frances ‘Fanny’ Macleay, which was exhibited by her as an honorary exhibitor at the Royal Academy London in 1824.

Mum and I saw it (a reproduction?) when we visited Elizabeth Bay House in 2013.

Elements of these – the colours, the thread work and seed pearls in the locket, the flowers of the still-life – were brought into clay experiments.

First four individual flower canes.

These little bowls range between 5.5 to 6.5 cm diameter. The back one combines two canes.

Extra elements were added, forced into a triangle, which was then cut and re-formed to include “thread and pearl”.

I made little bowls in two of the three potential kaleidoscope combinations.

These are slightly bigger – 8.5 cm across.

Finally I used leftover clay in an extruder, and created a bowl with a more 20th century “mod” vibe.

Back to the smaller size, at just over 6 cm.

The intention is that as my research reading and writing continues, I’ll keep responding in clay – further expanding my collection of vessels.

3 Responses to “More making, thinking”



  1. 1 Continuation | Fibres of Being Trackback on October 28, 2021 at 3:36 pm

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